Editorial

It’s been said that you’ll learn who your true friends are in a pinch, and now more than ever that’s been the case.

We’d encourage everyone to look around and take note of the people who are willing to help you — and take note of the businesses and community leaders and organizations who are going above and beyond.

Businesses are getting hit hard, and because of the economic hit from this virus some are going to close their doors. In many cases employees are shouldering the burden of those hits. There have been layoffs, time cuts and pay cuts. And while those can be expected in these unprecedented times, it’s important to see how they’re being done.

Despite the publication changes we’ve announced today, we’re not going anywhere and we’re still going to work to get good information out to you.

A rumor is a rumor until we can find some evidence to verify it. Lately, many of what had been termed rumors have turned out to be at least partially true.

From the first COVID-19 patient in Floyd County to the source of regional outbreaks and deaths — many of those things we’ve dug into have been verified.

Others, while still unverified, seem to have the scent of truth but remain rumors at this point. It wouldn’t be surprising if a large chain department store that, in the past week, closed its doors nationwide and furloughed employees until further notice might delay plans to anchor a local development.

Let’s work this through.

Looking at an industry as a whole you can learn a lot. Recently several large department store chains, for instance Kohl’s, have closed their doors nationwide and furloughed workers. They’ve also cut back their capital expenditures to the tune of $500 million.

In these unstable times, of course there’s the question of if the anchor tenant of the development at the former Kmart property will pull out. There’s also the question of the restaurants who’ve submitted site plans.

So we asked the question. At this point there’s a contract and, just like anything else, who knows what will happen as this plays out.

But we’re not trying to pick on developers, retail stores or restaurants — we’re all affected by this.

Take newspapers, for instance, or even online media outlets. Putting boots on the ground costs money, a lot of money, and the revenue hasn’t supported what is essential to conducting those businesses. So across the nation we’ve seen cuts in production days — and in the past couple of weeks so many traditional community news outlets shut down completely.

Today you’ve read the announcement of both daily newspapers run by Times-Journal Inc. — the Rome News-Tribune and the Marietta Daily Journal — moving to five-day-a-week print publication.

There are a lot of costs to producing a print publication and we’ve taken some hits in the past few years — the drastically increased cost of paper as a result of tariff wars with Canada as well as a national trend in the decline of newspaper readership. But this newspaper survived the Great Recession and we’re going to weather this storm as well.

A recent story published by National Public Radio covered the wave of closures brought on by this epidemic.

As media outlets, including ours, see their digital readership soar, unfortunately that doesn’t translate to money in the bank. Digital advertisers have pulled ads for many reasons. Either they can’t afford them now, which is understandable as they suffer their own cuts, or, as the NPR report stated, they don’t want to be seen alongside coronavirus content.

They’d rather their brand wasn’t associated with some of the most highly read and needed stories in recent history.

All that said, the Rome News-Tribune is still a daily operation and we’ll still be reporting on things as they happen. We’re still going to be working to verify or debunk reports and rumors in our community. We’re still going to work with and alongside those who are striving to do their best in these difficult times.

We’re going to work to filter out the chaff and present you with well-thought-out and well-considered stories.

We’re still covering this community.

We’re going to continue to present our local news in an informed and fair fashion. And we’re going to do our best to make sure you have the information you need.

Thank you for reading.

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